Future Meadows

In October 2011, Meredith Warner and Jeremy Beaudry created a site-specific conversation beneath the Reading Viaduct in order to reveal how the meadows on the viaduct are already an important part of a much larger living ecosystem in Philadelphia. Working with landscape architect Margie Ruddick, this collaboration was presented during DesignPhiladelphia as a contribution by The Action Mill.

Crickets, butterflies, mourning doves, goldenrod, paulownia trees, mullein… The meadows of the Reading Viaduct are already an important part of a much larger living ecosystem of Philadelphia that includes several miles of naturally occurring grasses, perennials and shrubs running throughout the city.

From the first moment we stepped onto the Reading Viaduct to explore the site and consider how we might address it, we were taken aback by the richness of this urban ecosystem, these urban meadows spread out before us like an elevated river of land, vegetation, and wildlife. Our objective in presenting Future Meadows was to convey some sense of our wonder at the life that is on the viaduct right now, and to provoke a consideration for how these urban meadows might be preserved and encouraged throughout the city as a vital part of the natural systems contained within Philadelphia. For us, the action of pinning the meadow plant boutonnieres on those who came to us underneath the viaduct that night was a matter of meaningfully transferring our passion for urban meadows, much as the seeds contained in the boutonniere plants might be dispersed across the city as they were taken away. And the meadow plant species identification cards were the simple tool we passed on to assist others’ awareness of this abundant urban vegetation.

Special thanks to Margie Ruddick and Ashley Kalemjian for their valuable expertise and insightful collaboration. This project was a joint effort with, and generously supported by The Action MillTim Moyer was responsible for photographing the event.